Chemical sensors and instrumentation powered by microbial fuel cells

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


The use of microbial fuel cells to power electronic devices is inhibited by their low voltage and current outputs, therefore they cannot be used directly to power electronic devices without appropriate power management. The goal of the thesis is to power chemical sensors but currently there are no available sensor circuitries which can be operated at the low potential and current delivered by a microbial fuel cell. In this thesis, novel sensor circuitry and power management circuitry have been developed. The sensor circuitry can be programmed to operate any generic amperometric sensor and the data is accessible using wireless communication. The power management circuitry boosts the low potential and current outputs of a microbial fuel cell to the higher level required for powering the sensor circuitry. For testing purposes, the sensor circuitry was programmed to operate a chemical sensor measuring copper and lead concentrations in water. This work has demonstrated that by adopting the proposed power management and sensor circuitry, the energy from a microbial fuel cell can be used for powering electronic devices, including chemical sensors deployed at remote locations.




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